Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — known regularly as PFAS — are a group of man-made chemicals that include different types of substances including PFOA, PFOS, GenX and others. PFAS can be found in some firefighting foams, household products like water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products like Teflon, waxes, polishes, and even some food packaging, according to the EPA.
PFAS chemical compounds turned up in March at Dayton’s Ottawa Water Treatment Plant, the first time the compounds — believed to be safe when below 70 ppt for lifetime exposure — were detected in water after the treatment process. The chemicals have also been found in part of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s water supply.
Both the city and the base used firefighting foam that they determined was likely the cause of the contamination.
“For the first time in Agency history, we utilized all of our program offices to construct an all-encompassing plan to help states and local communities address PFAS and protect our nation’s drinking water,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, in a statement. “We are moving forward with several important actions, including the maximum contaminant level process, that will help affected communities better monitor, detect, and address PFAS.”
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Critics say the plan is too vague to address any immediate issues. “This so-called ‘action plan’ on PFAS is really a non-action plan, designed to delay effective regulation of these dangerous chemicals in our drinking water,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement on Twitter.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, said the plan did not answer key questions about drinking water safety. Earlier this month, Brown joined a bipartisan letter calling on EPA to set federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS.
“All Americans have the right to safe drinking water and the EPA needs to set a clear, strict standard for these contaminants,” Brown said. “Americans should never have to fear for their health, or their child’s health, when they turn on the faucet. We need the EPA to prove to us that it’s on the peoples’ side and not the side of the chemical companies that have exposed millions to these toxic substances.”
Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a statement that he strongly supported the comprehensive action plan laid out by the EPA — encouraging the process of listing PFOA and PFOS, both found in our community’s water, as hazardous substances.
“Additionally, I am pleased to see the EPA has begun its process of listing PFOA and PFOS, both found in our community’s water, as hazardous substances,” he said in a statement. “By designating these as hazardous, it will allow for our community to have increased access to federal tools to clean up the groundwater sites where the chemicals have been found. This action plan is a strong step forward for our community to continue to ensure our water is safe.”
FIVE MILITARY READS
• 5 key facts we learned from Wright-Patt active shooter report
• Air Force creates new pitch day to give away $40M to startups
• Shutdown affects local workers: 'It got real for us'
• For Dayton-area veterans, food insecurity still poses issue
• New director appointed at Air Force museum